Plate 343X. Griffin Point 1943 - 1948 - 1953 - 2003 The Griffin Point Photo Plot Transect was established in 1943 and reread in 1948, 1953, and 1979. The transect starting point is immediately south of the Griffin Point exclosure built in 1943. When this Photo Plot Transect was established the area was very heavily grazed by domestic sheep. “The Griffin Point transect samples the characteristic [high elevation] Festuca type where soil erosion is most pronounced and where the grass clumps of Festuca ovina [sheep fescue] stand the highest above the soil.” In 1953, I.H. Johnson noted that “the marked declines in [sheep] fescue and mutton bluegrass [Poa fendleriana] are the principal reasons for concluding that the vegetation trend continues to be downward…since active sheet erosion is continuing on each of the five transect plots and [plant] litter is almost totally unsatisfactory, soil trend is also downward.” In his 1979 report on this Photo Plot Transect, Dr. Jim Bowns, range ecologist at Southern Utah University, wrote that “the prominent feature of the landscape is the pedestaling of Festuca ovina and [pocket] gopher activity….[the pedestaling has been] interpreted by previous investigators…[as] a result of overgrazing and subsequent soil erosion. These pedestaled plants, however, are prominent even in the [adjacent] exclosure and the metal pegs marking the [transect] plot boundaries are no higher [today] than when originally placed. [Thus,] it appears that the hummocking is, rather, a cryopedogenic process resulting in frost hummocks. There is little difference between the grazed area and the exclosure. The only notable difference is the smaller and less abundant F. ovina outside. The grass identified as Poa fendleriana [in earlier reports] is actually Poa canbyi. This range appears to be in good condition and the trend up or at least stable.” (unpublished reports in the range files on the Escalante Ranger District, Dixie National Forest, Escalante, UT). Plate 343x is viewed southeast from the Photo Plot Transect starting point at the steel stake in the foreground that also marks the line between Sections 35 and 2. The truck in the 1943 image is on the transect centerline. Forest Service Road 140 now bisects the transect, which accounts for the boulders that have been moved onto the meadow. The steel post in the 2003 retake was marked with white flagging, as were all the plots on the transect. The site was actively being grazed by cattle in 2003. In the distance, spruce has increased while aspen has declined. Grass cover appears to have increased despite the extended drought and there was no evidence of recent soil erosion.
U.S. Forest Service photographs (unnumbered) taken by Ray J. Davis on June 28, 1943; Walter P. Cottam on June 27, 1948; and I.H. Johnson August 18, 1953; retake by Charles E. Kay on August 25, 2003 - - Photo No. 5255-15A. Original photographs, negatives, and narrative reports held in the range files on the Escalante Ranger District, Dixie National Forest, Escalante, UT.
Conifer, Aspen, Dry Meadow
South West: Section 2, Range 1 West, Township 34 South; UTM of transect starting point 423700 E, 4193300 N; elevation 10,460 ft.